Buyers Remorse ….

NEWARK – As part of its enforcement effort against unregistered and non-compliant home improvement contractors, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has issued Notices of Violation against 44 contractors, seeking a total of $195,000 in civil penalties, based on complaints and referrals by consumers from across New Jersey.

“Complaints about home improvement contractors were the number one complaint category the Division of Consumer Affairs received last year,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Disreputable contractors can leave consumers with costs that escalate to tens of thousands of dollars, as well as dangerous conditions that must be repaired at additional cost. If you perform home improvement work in New Jersey, you must comply with our laws. Otherwise, you will be held accountable.” – http://njtoday.net/2012/07/23/nj-issues-notices-to-44-unregistered-or-non-compliant-home-improvement-contractors/

Home Depot – Solution Oriented?

Home Depot is now working with contractors through a program the Big-box retailer has acquired in the home services marketplace and the acquisition can only be a “God” send to many consumers affected by shoddy and dishonest contractors.

Redbeacon lets users and contractors find each other for local home services , including plumbers, roofers, painters, and house cleaners, on its website. Service providers pay a fee to Redbeacon for new paying customers for a lead. The company has expanded from San Franciscoto New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle,  and Houston.  I am sure that New Jersey homeowners will be looking forward to being connected to reputable firms in the wake of so many unlicensed contractors in their midst.

The  mobile app that can be downloaded onto any Android, iPhone or iPad device which in turn allows users to get quotes for many service on the go without having to have service professionals visit their home.  By using today’s swath of technology which includes “smart” phones and ipads, as well as the web, Home Depot’s RedBeacon will be making life easier for the consumer and the professional.

Some of the features of the app lets users select from common home service providers like Handyman, Electrician, House Cleaner, Plumber and Yard Worker to make a request for services. It uses the phone’s GPS to locate the job and matches the request with quality pros in the area, who then compete for the job and provide quotes.  The ability to send photos and video of the job to be done to a licensed contractor who in turn can bid on on the job remotely will facilitate competition and customer satisfaction.

The company, RedBeacon, Founded by former Googlers Aaron Lee, Ethan Anderson and Yaron Binur, has raised $7.4 million in funding led by Mayfield Fund and Venrock.

Home Depot didn’t comment extensively on how the retailer will be incorporating Redbeacon into its operations, but there could be plenty of synergies considering the crossover in the home services space. Consumers who are using the app are probably dealing with plenty of contractors and providers who are also Home Depot customers, and vice verse.

What Consumers Should Know!

“New Jersey’s registration laws enable consumers to ensure a contractor is properly insured and can be held accountable for his or her work – information every consumer should possess while looking for a reputable and qualified professional,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said.

Before hiring a home improvement contractor, New Jersey consumers are urged to:

  • Obtain the contractor’s State registration number, which always begins “13VH.”
  • Contact the State Division of Consumer Affairs to learn whether the contractor’s registration is still valid. Call the Division’s License Verification Line at 1-973-273-8090, or check the Division’s database of all 43,000 registered home improvement contractors at http://www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/LVinfo.htm.
  • Ask the State Division of Consumer Affairs whether there are any consumer complaints filed against the contractor.
  • Demand a copy of the contractor’s commercial general liability insurance policy.
  • Contact the insurer to learn whether the policy is still valid.

To advertise and perform home improvement work legally in New Jersey, contractors must register with the State Division of Consumer Affairs. Registration materials are available at http://www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/HIC/HIC_application.htm.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 1-973-504-6200.

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